Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 8/27/14

11:45
Dave Cameron: It’s the last Wednesday in August, so let’s chat for an hour or so.

11:45
Dave Cameron: The queue is now open.

12:01
Comment From Eminor3rd
Thoughts on the extension of Jack Z?

12:02
Dave Cameron: It was inevitable. Teams don’t fire GMs in the middle of winning seasons, and they weren’t going to go through another off-season of speculation about his contract. Dayton Moore got a similar extension not too long ago. It’s what happens when a team contends for the first time in a while.

12:02
Comment From Bret
Are the Jays headed to a rebuild this offseason? Should they be?

12:03
Dave Cameron: I think they’ll take a run at it again and then blow things up mid-season if it doesn’t work. There will be plenty of trade value left with Bautista, Encarnacion, etc… in July.

12:03
Comment From Patrick
If you’re Mike Rizzo, who do you prioritize in the 2016 free agent class: J. Zimmermann, Fister, or Desmond?

12:04
Dave Cameron: I’d generally choose the hitter over the pitcher, but it depends entirely on price.

12:04
Comment From ANB
Do you see any waiver trades going down in the next 4.5 days?

12:05
Dave Cameron: Detroit should really think about acquiring a starter.

12:06
Comment From Brian Scalabrine
Do you use RE24 much? How are the matrix tables calculated?– Is this similar to the linear weights used in wRC etc.?

12:07
Dave Cameron: RE24 is context-dependent, so the run values will change based on the situation. For instance, a single with the bases empty will be worth less than a single with runners at second and third. In linear weights/wOBA/wRC+, all singles count the same.

12:07
Comment From brad
What are your thoughts on Corey Dickerson?

12:07
Dave Cameron: Wildly underrated. Very good player.

12:07
Comment From Guest
A full season (or multiple seasons) is obviously more indicative of a team’s quality than one hot streak, even stretched over a few months, but when the makeup of a team is markedly different than during the early season, is it not fair to look at, say, games after June 1st as a stronger indication as to the strength of a team now?

12:08
Dave Cameron: There’s no reason to throw out good information. Our depth projections use current rosters, so a team that has a very different roster at this point in the year than earlier in the year will have a projection based upon the players on the team now.

12:09
Comment From Jeff
Will Arismendy Alcantara get a chance to play everyday in 2015? Or will the Cubs pick up a veteran for the OF and turn him into a supersub?

12:09
Dave Cameron: I think he’s probably most valuable as a Mark McLemore type who plays multiple positions.

12:10
Comment From Hamilton Porter
Not even counting his current struggles bc of SSS, but has Oscar Taveras been overrated? He doesn’t walk much and also doesn’t have a ton of HR power.

12:10
Dave Cameron: Shhh. If you say that too loudly, an army of angry Cardinals fans will yell at you.

12:10
Comment From J
What is the ceiling for Soler? Somewhere between Puig and Cespedes?

12:11
Dave Cameron: Every player’s ceiling is “best player in baseball”, basically. And there’s no reason to limit comps for Soler to just other players from Cuba.

12:11
Comment From Steven
You are charged with defending Alex Gordon’s (possible) decision to exercise a $13m option… go.

12:12
Dave Cameron: He was generating goodwill with his home town fans and letting the organization know that he wants to stick around. I’d put the odds of him actually picking up that option without an extension at about 0%.

12:12
Comment From CuriousGeorge
how awesome was that cj wilson article?

12:12
Dave Cameron: Pretty great. It’s always fun to hear guys who are succeeding without top flight stuff talk about how they do it.

12:13
Comment From Sean
In your opinion, should Jack Z have received an extension?

12:14
Dave Cameron: People are reading way too much into this. Teams do not let their managers and GMs become lame ducks heading into a final year of their contract. The team had two options: extend or fire. They weren’t going to fire him given the team’s success, so an extension was the only logical choice.

12:14
Comment From Guest
Really enjoyed the article on the Cubs. What do you think they should do this offseason?

12:16
Dave Cameron: Mostly what they’ve done the last few off-seasons. Everyone wants them to go for an ace, but I think they’re probably better off finding the next Feldman/Hammel type to fill out the rotation and save the big money for position players. And maybe make a run at a catching upgrade like Russell Martin.

12:17
Comment From Prich
In one week Bartolo Colon will be pitching for the ______?

12:17
Dave Cameron: I’ll guess he ends up in Anaheim.

12:17
Comment From Matt
Everyone is talking about Giancarlo and being moved in the offseason, but nobody is talking about what his next contract will look like. If Trout just got 6/144, is 8/200 reasonable for Stanton?

12:18
Dave Cameron: Tout isn’t the point of reference for Stanton, since they’re at different levels of service time. Stanton’s going to probably get something like $30 million in arbitration over his final two years, so 8/$200M would basically be buying six years of free agency for $170M. That seems light.

12:18
Comment From Ryan
If you were the Angels, what would you do to try to improve their rotation for the rest of the year?

12:18
Dave Cameron: Colon is the best pitcher available.

12:19
Comment From Ryan
What does Melky Cabrera get as a free agent assuming he gets tendered a QO?

12:19
Dave Cameron: I wouldn’t be shocked if he took the QO. Lots of risk there.

12:19
Comment From Kevin
Dave, on the topic of Defense vs. Offense in terms of WAR: high-quality defensive guys who don’t hit can be found in a pinch and can be stashed in AAA. Guys who can hit but can’t defend can’t be easily acquired. Thus, defense is easier to replace and this is should be reflected more in terms of where the replacement level is defined

12:19
Dave Cameron: Factually incorrect.

12:20
Comment From Sean
Mookie, Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Sean Coyle (or Cespedes if they prefer) for Stanton (who will sign a massive extension). Realistic or pipe dream?

12:21
Dave Cameron: Probably not enough, but better than most pie-in-the-sky offers that get thrown around. Replace Rodriguez with Owens and you’re starting to get somewhere.

12:21
Comment From Matt
Are the Royals seriously going to win the division?

12:21
Dave Cameron: Depends on if the Tigers keep underachieving.

12:21
Comment From Chris
Is Kyle Hendricks the exact type of prospect you always say scouts undervalue? Great command and high usage of the changeup, but he wasn’t one of their top ranked prospects before this year.

12:22
Dave Cameron: Yep. Probably never going to win a Cy Young, but a useful big league pitcher.

12:22
Comment From J
Javier Baez has struck out in almost half his plate appearances. At what point would you send him back down?

12:23
Dave Cameron: The minor league season is almost over. He’s up for the rest of the year, and is auditioning for a spot on the 2015 Cubs. If he doesn’t make any adjustments, he’ll probably start next year back at Triple-A.

12:23
Comment From ANB
Can Detroit trade for Feldman and then try to spin him in the offseason? Everyone needs a useful starter right?

12:23
Dave Cameron: Feldman’s deal would be tougher to move than Colon’s.

12:24
Comment From Rick
With the recent advancements of leagues like the NFL and NBA using bio mechanics for injury prevention should the MLB be looking to do the same?

12:24
Dave Cameron: There’s plenty of work already being done on BioMechanics. Sportvision (and others) are already working on building out systems to measure things like arm angle within a game, but it’s not an easy thing to perfect, and it won’t be cheap.

12:25
Comment From Professor Ross Eforp
Why would Bartolo Colon go unclaimed? I get that he is old and under contract for next year, but $11MM next year seems more than fair for a guy that continues to pump out above average seasons.

12:25
Dave Cameron: Agree that it was weird that he went through.

12:25
Comment From Ryan
Do you think the Rays, Red Sox or Rangers have the best chance to bounce back from their disappointing 2014 seasons?

12:25
Dave Cameron: Red Sox.

12:25
Comment From LaLoosh
regarding Alcantara, do you think he’s the young Cub position player most likely to get traded for an arm?

12:26
Dave Cameron: No, I think that’s probably Baez. My wild speculation is that they were hoping he had a big second half so that they could flip him this winter.

12:26
Comment From Edwards
If Stanton rebukes extension talks from MIA this winter, do they trade him or try to make one more run next year?

12:26
Dave Cameron: They’ll hold onto him until they are 100% sure they have to trade him.

12:27
Comment From Brian Scalabrine
Follow up to my previous RE24 question– my apologies for its poor wording. How exactly does someone calculate that at the outset of each inning we can expect .461 runs to be scored?

12:27
Dave Cameron: League average is about 4.15 runs per game right now. Divide by 9.

12:27
Comment From Whit
Ryan Flaherty’s ceiling is best player in baseball?? Awesome!

12:28
Dave Cameron: That was obviously a bit of hyperbole, but then again, Ben Zobrist was Ryan Flaherty not too long ago.

12:28
Comment From Brandon
Stupid question here – does UZR/DRS give an OF get more credit for making a tough play than an when an IF makes a tough play? Since he is potentially robbing 2B/3B/HR in addition to just 1B?

12:28
Dave Cameron: Yep. A potential hit turned into an out in the OF is more valuable than in the IF. But OFs get fewer chances.

12:29
Comment From Johnny
Over/under $300 million contract for Giancarlo if he hits free agency?

12:30
Dave Cameron: I’ll go under, because my guess is he only gets to FA if he declines a bit from his current level. If he keeps playing like this, some big market team will trade for him and give him a monster extension.

12:31
Comment From Ryan
The Cubs are poised for a breakout; which team is poised for an implosion? Tigers seem like a good candidate, given their large financial commitments and declining performances from star players.

12:31
Dave Cameron: Depending on how this off-season goes and how much money they have to spend, maybe the Nationals. It won’t happen next year, but 2016 is a problem for them unless they really increase payroll.

12:32
Comment From Word
Will context-dependent performance factor into your MVP vote this year? If so, which context-dependent stat(s) would you consider most relevant?

12:32
Dave Cameron: I’ll look at clutch performance as a potential tie-breaker if I think the context neutral numbers for multiple candidates don’t make the pick obvious. I do think that there’s merit in giving a player credit for taking advantage of the opportunities he’s given, but I wouldn’t just vote for the guy with the highest WPA or RE24.

12:33
Comment From Johnny
What type of contract do you expect Brandon McCarthy to get? If you look at his xFIP and k/BB he is an elite pitcher.

12:33
Dave Cameron: I’d guess 3/33 or something in that range.

12:33
Comment From Sir
Does Alex Gordon finish in the top 5 of MVP voting?

12:33
Dave Cameron: If the Royals make the playoffs? Yeah, I think so.

12:33
Comment From Dan
As a Cubs fan living in KC, I am deathly scared of our top prospects turning out like the Royals “best farm system ever” did. Any sort of assurance or insight into why the Cubs guys are closer to a “sure thing” of success?

12:33
Dave Cameron: The Cubs prospects are hitters, not pitchers.

12:33
Comment From Whit
Can Anaheim even afford him? They already have $140m committed against the new tax, and that’s if they don’t pick up a few options.

12:34
Dave Cameron: Trading for Colon now doesn’t mean you have to keep him for 2015. Even if they had to eat a few million to move him, it might still be worth it.

12:34
Comment From Immanual Kamment
Dave it sounds like if you were a GM your strategy would be to sign position players to long term contracts and go with the cheapest short-term pitching staff with which you could get away. True?

12:34
Dave Cameron: Mostly. There are exceptions to every rule, but in general, build around hitters and churn through pitchers is a good strategy.

12:35
Comment From LaLoosh
Melky takes QO?! what?! where does that come from??

12:36
Dave Cameron: The QO is going to be $15 million next year. He’s probably a +2 WAR player with a lot of variance around that. Maybe a team would offer him 3/36 or something and he’d prefer that to 1/15, but he’s not the kind of player teams are going to go nuts for.

12:37
Comment From LaLoosh
regarding the ALC, no way could it be that the Royals are just, ya know, good… LOL

12:38
Dave Cameron: I don’t know how to respond to a well reasoned argument like “LOL”. The Royals have played like a .500 team that has gotten extraordinarily positive clutch performance. Good luck betting on that formula continuing.

12:38
Comment From Josh
In this run environment, going forward, how much more expensive are plus offensive players going to get? Become more valuable than plus pitchers?

12:39
Dave Cameron: A 140 wRC+ is no more valuable in a low run scoring environment than a high run scoring environment.

12:39
Comment From DD in Detroit
is this just a down power year for Miguel Cabrera due to the injuries are the start of a decline?

12:39
Dave Cameron: How about both?

12:40
Comment From Grant
You’ve said before that you think the Cubs should continue buying low on pitchers instead of spending big on a FA. Any particular candidates for the former?

12:40
Dave Cameron: Brandon McCarthy seems like their kind of pitcher, though maybe he’s pricing himself out of a buy-low guy.

12:40
Comment From Moop
Billy Butler is still an elite hitter right?

12:40
Dave Cameron: Billy Butler has never been an elite hitter.

12:41
Comment From dbet
Does Yu Darvish clearing waivers surprise you?

12:41
Dave Cameron: He’s out for the year, so not really.

12:41
Comment From BDF
Is it actually impossible to do anything–take the toy away, go in another room–about the squeaking on the podcasts?

12:41
Dave Cameron: You think we only one one squeaky toy?

12:42
Comment From Rick
My point was more about wearing body suits that track wear and tear on specific joints. Could help out with all the leg injuries.http://www.fastcom…

12:43
Dave Cameron: Body suit tests are limited to lab settings, which can’t recreate an actual MLB game and the conditions that lead to injuries. They’re interesting, but in-game biomechanics is what you really want.

12:43
Comment From foetus johnsonn
Is there any nba/nfl analyst you enjoy to read ?

12:43
Dave Cameron: I follow Tom Haberstroh on Twitter because he went to Wake Forest, and I enjoy his tweets even though I don’t really follow the NBA anymore.

12:44
Comment From Guest
Should players worry about a collapse in the cable TV money?

12:45
Dave Cameron: No, I think MLB has done a good job of creating a safety net with MLB.tv. If (when?) the cable bubble bursts, MLB has a direct to consumer revenue model in place. The league isn’t going to stop making money off television broadcasts any time soon.

12:46
Comment From Tommy B
I liked your Cubs story on Fox today. I had one question. In your research was there a team that under performed their BaseRuns 3 years in a row or more??

12:46
Dave Cameron: Sure, there are plenty of them, but not to the level of the Cubs recent underperformance, and nothing to show that it’s anything other than randomness.

12:47
Comment From Tim
Kershaw seems like a probable choice for the NL MVP; it’s rare enough for a pitcher to win the MVP, but can you think of a pitcher who has done it despite spending time on the DL?

12:47
Dave Cameron: My guess is that Kershaw doesn’t win, actually. I don’t think the BBWAA is there yet.

12:47
Comment From Bob
does zips/steamer projected war for relievers include chaining projections? Does it consider leverage index like retrospective war does?

12:47
Dave Cameron: Yep.

12:48
Comment From Joe
You mentioned Russell Martin as being a fit for the Cubs…where would that leave Welington Castillo? Backing up? A second piece in a major trade? He’s on pace for a 2 WAR season (after a 3 WAR season last year), so it seems like there’s some value there.

12:48
Dave Cameron: Castillo rates as a terrible pitch framer, so he’s probably a little less valuable than WAR would suggest. Nothing wrong with having him as a backup and depth piece, though.

12:49
Comment From JW Harvey
I’m interested in linking an excel sheet to an online baseball database. What would be a good source for this?

12:49
Dave Cameron: Retrosheet.

12:49
Comment From sk
the Blue Jays have the worst offense in baseball in August (by fWAR) worse than the D’Backs, what the heck is going on there? the team is pretty much healthy. is random variance punishing the Jays while rewarding the O’s?

12:49
Dave Cameron: Encarnacion might not be on the DL anymore, but he doesn’t really look healthy.

12:50
Comment From jay
If you were Tampa would you have rather had the pieces they got from the Price trade or the package that landed Oakland Samardzija & Hammell?

12:50
Dave Cameron: The package the Cubs got, but not by nearly the degree that people acted like when the Price trade was announced. Smyly is a quality pitcher and Franklin could easily be a quality player.

12:51
Comment From Guest
hey Snarkleupagus, the Royals prospects included Gordon (who had to move off 3B and took several years to develop,) Moose, and Butler. Saying “next year could be the year” in Chicago is awfully bold.

12:51
Dave Cameron: It’s almost like the article didn’t base the Cubs 2015 chances on the prospects all panning out at all…

12:52
Comment From LaLoosh
wow. re: Melky. Have you seen the FA OFer list? An older Curtis Granderson got 4/60M last winter. A 3+ yrs younger Melky Cabrera is certain to be able to cash in a 4 or 5 yr deal. Hunter Pence is better but a fair comp. Melky prob easily gets 5/70M.

12:52
Dave Cameron: If you think Hunter Pence is a fair comp for Melky Cabrera, you are off your rocker.

12:53
Comment From Dempster Fire
Keep having this idea to add a strength of schedule component to SIERA (or xFIP) that accounts for talent of batters faced. Scaled to 100 like a park factor. Any merit to this idea?

12:54
Dave Cameron: Yeah, it’s a useful adjustment, but the question is how you measure the quality of the hitter. Is it expected true talent level at the time of the at-bat, or do we go back recalculate it as we get new information about what the batter is/was? Are we perpetually recalculating a pitcher’s performance as we get more information about the quality of batters he faced in the past?

12:55
Comment From JD
How can the players get a larger share of league revenues in the next CBA?

12:55
Dave Cameron: This will be the biggest question in baseball over the next few years. They could ask for a fixed percentage of revenues, but I doubt the owners will go for that.

12:55
Comment From Grant
All modesty aside, fill in the blank: Dave Cameron would be better than [ ] current GMs at their jobs.

12:56
Dave Cameron: 0. There are so many things relating to a GMs job that have nothing to do with roster construction. Do I strike you as the kind of guy who would do really well talking to the media every day?

12:56
Comment From Grant
If you were the Red Sox, would you empty the farm system (Betts, Swihart, Owens, Bradley) for a guy like Stanton or Tulo?

12:56
Dave Cameron: Probably not, no.

12:57
Comment From Jim
Who’s closer to the real Josh Donaldson? 2014’s .301/.384/.499 with 24 dingers, or 2014’s .252/.340/.461 with ~30+ dingers? Seems to be selling out a bit for power, but he seems to fit into two weirdly different models.

12:57
Dave Cameron: This year’s version.

12:58
Comment From Jim
Man, every person who’s into baseball secretly thinks they’d be a killer GM. Come on, Dave.

12:58
Dave Cameron: I would suck at it.

12:59
Comment From bbtb
The Padres honored Selig last night by naming their future hall of fame plaza the “Selig Hall of Fame Plaza”. No one can figure out why they did this (possible pathetic all-star game bribe). Ten points for you if you can provide an answer.

12:59
Dave Cameron: Selig demanded it as part of allowing the new ownership group to buy the team. /wild guess

1:00
Comment From Word
Ok, no GM. How would you be as a scout?

1:00
Dave Cameron: Even worse.

1:01
Dave Cameron: Others may see things differently, but I think my marketable skill is taking somewhat complicated models and turning them into English for laymen to understand. That is basically a useless skillset to have as a high level executive working with a small group of people using proprietary data.

1:01
Comment From Word
Who, among FG writers, would make the *worst* GM?

1:02
Dave Cameron: Sullivan. Every time any question was asked, he’d be like “ehh, who really knows anything?”

1:02
Comment From Word
Who, among FG writers, would make the best GM?

1:03
Dave Cameron: Cistulli. He’d find every marginal prospect with any hint of usefulness and build a team full of underrated young kids.

1:04
Dave Cameron: Okay, on that note, I’m out of here. I won’t be here next week, as I’m taking vacation starting tomorrow, so Kiley McDaniel will be filling in for me and hosting his first prospects chat here at FanGraphs. Come back next Wednesday and bug him about all things Javier Baez.

1:04
Dave Cameron: Thanks for hanging out everyone.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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